Securing Your Home

Secure Furniture

To prevent injury to your family and minimize damage.

Materials & Tools Needed:
  • Cabinet Latches
  • Brackets
  • Lag Screws
  • Flat Head Screws
  • Wood Trim
  • Small Nails or Brads
  • Screw Hooks
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Crescent Wrench Cabinets

Install positive catching latches. Many variations are available at hardware stores.

  • Childproof (out of sight, inexpensive,easy to install)
  • Decorative (Turn knob to open)
  • Decorative (Pull back handle to open)
  • Decorative (Release button to open)
  • Hook and Eye (Suitable for Garage Cabinets)

Tall Furniture

Install metal "L" brackets between furniture and wall stud at top. (The "L" bracket can be installed inverted so it will be hidden from view.)

Open Shelves

Install guard across shelf, or install wood trim on front of shelf. Place heavy objects on lower shelves.

Hanging Pictures

Screw hooks into wood members only (stud or ceiling joists). Close hooks used for hanging pictures to prevent their falling.

Strap Water Heater

Materials & Tools Needed:
  • (2) 6' lengths of 1 1/2" 16 gauge pre-drilled strap
  • (1) 10' length 1/2" EMT tube (conduit)
  • (4) 5/16" x 3" lag screws with washers
  • (4) 5/16" x 3/4" long hex head machine bolts with 4 nuts and 8 washers
  • (2) 5/16" x 1 1/4" hex head machine bolt with 1 nut and 2 washers each
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Hack Saw
  • Crescent Wrench
  • Vise or Clamp
  • Power Drill
  • 3/8" Drill Bit
  • 3/16" Drill Bit

Strapping your water heater and making sure it is fitted with a flexible gas supply line will greatly reduce the danger of fire or explosion from a gas leak after an earthquake. If your water heater does not have a flexible gas supply line, contact a licensed plumber to install one. These instructions are for a 30-40 gallon water heater within 12" of a stud wall.

  1. Mark water heater at 6" down from top and about 18" up from bottom. Transfer these marks to wall. Locate the studs in the wall on both sides of the water heater.
  2. Drill a 3/16" hole 3" deep through the wall sheathing and into the center of the wood studs at the four marks made in step 2.
  3. Measure around the water heater and add 2" to the measurement. Using a hacksaw, cut the two 1 1/2" x 16 gauge metal straps to this length for encompassing water heater.
  4. Mark 1 1/2" from each end and insert in a vise or under a heavy object and bend the ends outward to approximately a right angle. Bend the straps into a curve.
  5. Measure the distance from a point midway on each side of the water heater to the holes drilled in the wall. (Probably two different lengths.) Add 1 1/2" to these measurements. Using a hacksaw, cut two pieces of conduit to each of these two lengths.
  6. Using a hammer, flatten approximately 1 1/2" at each end of the four pieces of tubing by laying the tube on a flat metal or concrete surface and striking with the hammer. Be sure you flatten both ends on the same plane.
  7. Insert the flattened ends of the tubes, one at a time, into a vise or clamp. With the hammer and center punch make a mark 3/4" from each end at the center of the flattened area of the tube. Drill 3/8" holes in the ends of all four tubes (8 holes). Be sure tubes are clamped down while drilling. Bend each end to about 45 degrees.
  8. Wrap the straps around the heater and insert a 5/16" x 1 1/4" bolt with washers into the bent ends. Tighten nuts with fingers. Insert 5/16" x 3/4" bolts through strap from the inside at the mid-point on each side of water heater. Attach one end of each tube strut to a protruding bolt, add a washer and nut, and tighten with fingers. Insert 5/16" lag screw in the opposite end of each tube strut and insert in hole in the wall stud. You may need to tap the lag screw gently into the hole to start it, then tighten with crescent wrench.
  9. Adjust the straps to the proper height and tighten all nuts snugly, but not too tight.

Note: There are many methods to strapping water heaters. The above method is recommended for fire safety in that metal is the only material that comes in contact with the water heater.

Add Foundation Bolts

To keep your house on its foundation during an earthquake.
  1. Lay out bolt locations. For the typical one-story house, use 1/2" diameter bolts at six feet on center.
  2. Drill holes through existing sill into the concrete foundation for 8?" long expansion bolts, using carbide drill bits.
  3. Use right angle drill for tight access places where the crawl space is low.
  4. Blow all the dust out of the drilled holes using a rubber tube. Wear goggles and dust mask or respirator for protection from dust and debris.
  5. Insert expansion bolt with the washer and nut attached. Leave nut at top of bolt when tapping the bolt in place to protect the threads.
  6. After tapping bolt in place, tighten the bolt by turning the nut. Do not over tighten or bolt will be damaged.

The Earthquake Advisor’s Handbook for Wood Frame Houses, a National Science Foundation funded project.